This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville, Virginia for the STP Gas Booster 500.
The series took a week off for Easter and will not have another week off until the end of July. Many of the drivers will compete in the Sprint All-Star Race in May, which is a non-points race.
Martinsville is a good racetrack for fantasy NASCAR players to gain ground on the competition. Most drivers are either very good on the short paperclip-shaped racetrack or they struggle throughout the race. The key will be to load your team with the drivers who have a history of finishing up front at Martinsville.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live will be the same as Bristol. Select drivers who will start up front and have the chance to lead many laps. Track position is very important at Martinsville and your drivers will score one point for every two laps they lead. The winning driver has a history of leading over 100 laps in the race. That could mean a huge score for your Fantasy Live team.
Unlike the Fantasy Live game where fantasy players have until the drop of the green flag to select their team, people playing the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game must have their lineups selected early on Friday morning. The first practice and qualifying will begin after your team has been selected, so players will not have any data to use when selecting their team. Have no fear, I can help.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game…
Teams who pay attention to NASCAR news could have an advantage over their competition this week.
Denny Hamlin is one of the best drivers in the series at Martinsville. He will miss the race due to the injury he suffered at Auto Club Speedway. Fantasy NASCAR players who are not caught up on the latest NASCAR news may select Hamlin for their team, even though he is not in the race.
Brad Keselowski has been the King of NASCAR through the first five races. There are better racetracks to use Keselowski, so save him this week.
Clint Bowyer has had recent success at Martinsville. In the last four races at racetrack, Bowyer has three top-10 finishes and one top-five finish. He would be a good option this week.
When I think of Martinsville, two drivers come to mind. It would be a good idea to select these drivers for your team. Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A….
Jimmie Johnson is the best driver at Martinsville. The only driver who has comparable stats with Johnson at the racetrack is Denny Hamlin. With Hamlin out this week, Johnson is the best selection for fantasy NASCAR teams.
Johnson has seven wins, 15 top-five finishes, 19 top-10 finishes and two poles in 22 career starts at Martinsville. In his last four starts at the racetrack, Johnson won half of the races, led 431 laps and has the second-highest driver ranking of 121.6.
Johnson should find his way to Victory Lane again on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin would have been in this spot if he was in the field on Sunday, but since he is out, Jeff Gordon is a great option.
Gordon has seven wins, 25 top-five finishes, 32 top-10 finishes and seven poles in 40 career starts at Martinsville. In his last four starts at the racetrack, Gordon has finished half of the races in the top five, led a series-high 570 laps and has a series-high 122.4 driver rating.
This will be the best chance to use Gordon for your team this season.
Other good choices: Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart
Group B is loaded with talent this week.
Mark Martin will drive the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing car for Denny Hamlin this week. Martin is good at Martinsville and the No. 11 team should make him even better.
This is one of Jeff Burton’s best racetracks. He is worth taking a chance on if you are in a gambling mood.
Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle have had success at Martinsville, but not enough for me to select them for my team.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B…
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets on a hot streak he is very good. He often cools off and goes into a slump. Right now Earnhardt is off to the best start in his career and the off week will do nothing to slow him down. Earnhardt has always been good at Martinsville.
Earnhardt has 10 top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes in his 26 career races at Martinsville. In the last four races at the racetrack he has finishes half of the races in the top-five, has the fourth-highest average finish of 8.25, and the sixth-highest driver rating of 103.3.
Stick with Earnhardt until he cools down.
Mark Martin would have been a good selection for Group B if he was driving the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing. Now that he is filling in for Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing, he must be on every team this week.
Martin has two wins, 12 top-five finishes, 25 top-10 finishes and three poles in his 48 career starts at Martinsville.
Martin did not race in the races at Martinsville last season, but as many times as he raced on the racetrack I am sure he did not forget how to get around the paperclip racetrack. Martin is my pick to win the pole on Sunday.
Ryan Newman has not gotten off to hot start in 2013. That will change this week at Martinsville. Newman won this race last year and he could repeat again on Sunday.
Newman has one win, seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10 finishes and three poles in his 22 career starts at Martinsville. In the last four races at the racetrack, Newman finished half of the races in the top 10, has the fifth-best average finish of 10.5 and the seventh-best driver rating of 91.6.
Take advantage of Newman on one of his best racetracks.
Martinsville is not one of Kyle Busch’s best racetracks, but he is hot right now and his recent stats at the racetrack are good.
Busch has seven top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes in his 16 career starts at Martinsville. In the last four races at the racetrack, Busch finished half of the races in the top five, led the third-most laps and has the fourth-best driver rating of 107.9
Busch will finish in the top 10 this week.
Other good choices: Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers
It will be hard to find a driver in Group C who has a good chance to finish in the top-10. The last three weeks AJ Allmendinger provided another option to use in Group C. Allmendinger is not racing this week, so fantasy NASCAR players will have to find another driver to team with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C…
Regan Smith will take over the driving duties from AJ Allmendinger in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy. Allmendinger was able to drive the car to three top-16 finishes. Smith should be able to finish in the top 20 on Sunday.
There are not many good choices in Group C, so take a chance on Smith and you may be glad you did.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse is the best driver in Group B. If you followed my advice this season, you have found other drivers to use this season and still have your nine starts with Stenhouse. This is the week to finally use him.
Stenhouse has never started a race at Martinsville, but he will figure the racetrack out before Sunday. If he does struggle in practice, Regan Smith should be a good option.
Other good choices: Casey Mears
2012 Martinsville Spring Race Pole Sitter: Kasey Kahne 97.128 mph
2012 Martinsville Spring Race Winner: Ryan Newman, Started No. 5
Most Wins at Martinsville (Active Drivers): Jeff Gordon 7, Jimmie Johnson 6
Most Poles at Martinsville (Active Drivers): Jeff Gordon 7
Three Active Drivers Average a Top 10: Jimmie Johnson (5.4), Denny Hamlin (6.4) and Jeff Gordon (6.8)
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Kurt Busch 2002, started No. 36
Races Won from the Pole: 19 of 128
Races Won from Top Five: 68 of 128
Races Won from Top 10: 92 of 128
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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